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Sunday, January 24, 2010

OK, now for something completely different...

For a while now I've gotten off on a tangent, speaking of insurance and political issues. Soapboxing, basically. But I began this blog as a way to let people know what pharmacy is truly about, what it is like being behind the counter, and also to give some hints as to how better to utilize your pharmacy.

So here's one: People want to save money, right? Well, go to http://www.destinationrx.com/
and you can see how much your medication costs in your area. I put in Lisinopril 10mg, for a typical one month supply dosing, just because it is so common. In my area, it turns out I could buy #30 of these babies for anywhere from $3.33 to $20.89. Quite a difference. I imagine the lower tier belongs to one of the supermarket chains competing with Walmart and their $4 list of meds.

These chain discount lists are a wonderful way to save money. (They will tell you that they still make money on these drugs but that's baloney. They are a loss leader, just a way to get you into the store so they can sell you other things.) The problem has always been that each chain has a different list. You would have to go to one pharmacy for this drug and another for that drug. But there are ways around this.

Many times (and I mean many many times)you can find an equal (though not identical) drug in the same drug class on the list and if you speak to your provider (often it just takes a phone call, not an office visit, but if you happen to have an appointment coming up then just broach the topic then) he or she will change to that drug and save you money.

But lets say there isn't another drug equal to yours in that same class. Or say your provider is persnickety (like me) and just says No, take the stuff I wrote for you and that's that. Is there another way to save? Sure. That drug might be on a competing store's list. So many have them nowadays: Target, PriceChopper, Hannaford, Giant Foods, Publix, and of course, Walmart. If you're willing to go and make a separate trip for that med (and know you can get a three month supply which makes the task easier--Walmart now will even mail you meds) you could do that and save. Now, I know what you're thinking: you're a pharmacist and you don't mind telling people to shop multiple pharmacies? Isn't that a dumb thing to do? Don't they always tell patients to stick to one drugstore so they will know what you are on and can check interactions? Well, yes. And that is all true. But did you also know that these computer systems druggists use can have your entire drug profile loaded into them, whether you go to that store or not?

Just tell the druggist--and it's not a bad idea to write the other meds, and otc drugs too, on the back of the Rx. They will load the info into your profile and the system should catch it. If it doesn't (just ask) then go somewhere else--that system is for the birds anyway and you don't want to have anything to do with it. But I've seen enough places to be able to say with confidence that I'd be very surprised--shocked--if any system now available doesn't have the option of having drugs inputted into it.

There. That's the tip of the day for you. Oh, one other thing: give the pharmacist time. Better to leave off a prescription and pick it up the next day if at all possible.

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